Heavy rainfall Tuesday caused all kinds of problems in southern Iowa, including the partial shutdown of the wastewater treatment plant in the Appanoose County town of Centerville. Dave Perry of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources visited the plant after operators reported it was overwhelmed following a six-inch rain.

Perry says there were a number of units totally engulfed in water that were out of service, and there were other treatment units where the water was halfway up on them and they were “pretty well inundated.” Perry says the units that weren’t completely under water still had too much water and sewage flowing in to handle it all.

“A majority of the waste would be going through the treatment unit and…a portion of it would be just discharging onto the ground right there,” Perry explained. Perry says the flooded plant is still able to provide some treatment, and the city has another plant that can treat sewage. He says the sewage that has spilled out of the overburdened equipment will not pose any problems with the drinking water.

Perry says Centerville gets its water from Rathbun rural water, so that will not be a problem at all. Perry says the water was already receding at the Centerville plant as he left Tuesday. He says the electricity was turned off on some units to prevent damage, and the impact of the water on the electrical portion of the units will determine how quickly they are up and running.

He says if the electrical system wasn’t damaged, and the water recedes, they could be put back into service quickly. Perry says Centerville had been working to reline its sewer system to prevent water from flowing in through cracks — which he says is a big problem, especially when the ground gets saturated.

Perry says another problem is that homeowners often have their sump pumps and roof drains running into the city sewer system and those are inflow sources that shouldn’t exist. He says the city should not have to treat the clean rainwater along with the wastewater. The governor issued a disaster proclamation for Appanoose County Tuesday to allow local officials access to state resources to deal with the flooding.